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Life as I'm learning it

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Location: Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States

"It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match'd with an agèd wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Weah played, and Weah lost

Former Chelsea and AC Milan star George Weah has been defeated in the Liberian Presidential elections by Harvard-educated economist Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. This is the first time that a woman is at the helm of power in an African state.

Whereas Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf had campaigned on the plank of development and her wealth of experience, Mr. Weah had relied solely on his charisma and lack of experience. The Hindu had pointed this out in their story a month ago...

Liberia's choice has been narrowed to two strikingly different candidates. Mr. Weah (39) is a former AC Milan and Chelsea striker who has made a selling point of his lack of experience and qualifications. Instead, he has stressed an empathy with ordinary voters. Though he is a millionaire with a home in Florida, he refers regularly to his upbringing in a slum in Liberia's capital, Monrovia.

Mr. Weah's supporters chant the slogan: ``He know book, he don't no book — I'll vote for him,'' meaning that his lack of education is no bar to high office.

His rival in the run-off, Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf (66) was an economist before entering politics in 1972 and would be Africa's first female President if she wins. Her campaign stresses her experience. One poster has a latest image of her alongside a 1986 photograph of her as a young woman emerging from prison and raising her hand to greet jubilant supporters. She was jailed twice for speeches critical of the corrupt former President, Samuel Doe, who seized power in a coup in 1980.


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